Travellers sites- two for Sidmouth?

TWO Sidmouth sites less than a mile apart have been earmarked as a possible home for gypsies and travellers.

TWO Sidmouth sites less than a mile apart have been earmarked as a possible home for gypsies and travellers.

Last week the Herald reported that land at the Bowd on the "gateway to Sidmouth" has been earmarked by East Devon District Council as a possible pitch and it is believed the county council's Woods Farm Recycling Centre near Tipton St John, has also been identified.

A Devon County Council spokesman said no decision has been made over closing Woods Farm but it is "not deemed suitable to cope with increasing volumes of recyclable material."

It is thought a site at Iron Bridge, near the A30, Honiton, and a field near Exmouth's recycling centre in Salterton Road are also among four areas deemed suitable to house travellers and gypsies by EDDC as it bids to meet Government demands to provide a further nine pitches by 2011.

Because proposals are still in their early stages, the size and development of the sites is yet to be decided.

Three of the proposed sites, including the Bowd land, are privately-owned and land owners are being notified of the district council's proposals by letter.

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If the landowners co-operate with the council, it is believed the land will be purchased by the county council with government cash earmarked for gypsy and traveller sites.

It is not thought landowners will be pressured to sell - and the district council will be forced to put forward new sites if deals for the four currently identified fall through.

The Herald was told this week: "East Devon District Council will notify the landowners and wait for a response.

"If the landowners are unwilling, the council will have to look for other sites. The council has a statutory duty to provide sites.

"The council has been looking at dozens of sites all around the area. These are the sites they came up with."

An EDDC spokeswoman said the nine extra pitches must be identified to join13 existing privately-owned pitches.

Gypsy and traveller site provision in East Devon was an ongoing consultation exercise under the council's local development framework proposals - and options identified as a result of recent public consultation and other studies will soon to be put before EDDC's development control committee.

Recommendations of that meeting will go forward to the executive board.

The EDDC spokeswoman said: "The proposed sites will be the subject of further public consultation before identifying locations that would accommodate EDDC's quota of pitches.

"At this stage we cannot comment on speculation as to the possible location of any of the optional sites."

The owner of the Bowd land was unavailable for comment. EDDC said that while the owner is an authorised gypsy occupant, the land is not registered gypsy site.